Nigeria’s off-cycle elections: Disability rights group reports on participation of people with disabilities

A disability rights group has reported on the participation of people with disabilities in Nigeria’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states.

The report, released by TAF Africa on Saturday, found that INEC officials arrived early at polling units with registered persons with disabilities in the majority of cases. However, there was some variation between states, with the highest percentage of early arrivals in Imo state (99%) and the lowest in Bayelsa state (77%).

The report also found that priority voting was not always respected, with only 80% of people with disabilities allowed to vote early in Kogi state, 75% in Imo state and 67% in Bayelsa state.

Assistive tools such as Braille ballot guides, EC30E PWD posters and magnifying glasses were reported to have been deployed in the majority of polling units observed (77% in Kogi state, 67% in Bayelsa state and 55% in Imo state).

The report also noted a heated disagreement and near-violence scene between party agents at one polling unit in Imo state due to public canvassing of votes and vote buying. However, so far, no polling unit with registered persons with disabilities has reported any major case of violence.

TAF Africa commended the community of people with disabilities for their “show of strength and commitment toward this election, despite the incidences that occurred during the 2023 general elections”. The group also called on people with disabilities who have not voted to go to their registered polling unit to exercise their civic rights in a peaceful and orderly way.

TAF Africa said it would continue to observe the conduct of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections as it affects the participation of people with disabilities. The group said it would issue a comprehensive statement on the participation of people with disabilities at the polls on Sunday, 12 November 2023.

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